Omega Mu Voices
Omega Mu, 1990
How I took the long way round in becoming a brother:
I think I’ve got the timeline mostly right here. My time at the Castle ran from 1986-1990. Myself, Jon Smith and Phil Jackson were all randomly thrown together all in the Oxford Hall dorms, at the Hilltop complex, in the spring of 1986. Gary Bresnehan and Don Leonard were in the mix too, but I cannot remember if they were in our building or one of the others in the quad. Pretty sure Phil was/is a Maine native, Gary was from Pittsfield, MA, Jon from Taunton, MA, and me from Ft. Myers FL but originally from Manchester, NH.
The usual freshman hijinks commenced, as you would expect. I still remember the impromptu softball games across the street in the open fields, now the Maine Foster Center. I believe this is when John picked up the Pilgrim moniker. Ask him about the shoes with the big buckles. To be fair, this is also the time that I wandered into the wrong bathroom at the dining hall. From what I recall, Jon was the ringleader in steering us towards the Castle. Makes sense as he is a legacy and all that. We promptly started on the rush/pledge/brother journey, but I hung back a little bit. I was, admittedly, a bit out of my element at the time, and also had a little bit of a challenge in committing. Not that that’s been a life-long theme or anything! I hung out on the periphery of the goings on at the house for the remainder of the ’86 year.
Jonathan B. Smith, 1990; David L. Smith, 1961; Jeffrey L. Smith, 1984
I didn’t rush and pledge until the spring of ’87, as I recall. And, even then, I wound up dropping out partway through. I cannot quite remember completely why, but I do recall things being a bit ‘chippy’ at the house between some of the brothers, as well as some ‘challenges’ in the relationship between the chapter, National and the university. Regardless, I managed to get my act together and rushed-pledged in the fall of ’87 and getting initiated on 12/4/87, if the date on the back of my pin is accurate.
Omega Mu Life, 1988-1990
My strange journey with the US Navy:
Unlike some of the guys of my era who had a game plan from day one like Jon ‘Woody’ Akoury, Jeff ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson and Joe Leporati, I did not have a single thought in my head about military service. I only bring this up as it is known I have served, but the details that made it back to the house are hazy and third hand. In fact, it wasn’t until well after graduation and Gulf War 1 that I went down that road. My maternal grandfather served in the Navy during WWII, and my Dad served in the Navy, pre-Vietnam. Dad was all gung-ho for me to do military service right out of high school; my mom, not so much. Personality wise, I kind of wound up somewhere in between the hard-core disciplinarian and George Carlin’s Hippy Dippy Weatherman.
Interestingly enough, both my grandfather and my dad started telling me ‘sea stories’ as I got older. That, along with the realization that if I was going to do military service, I had better do it before I got too old, is what prompted me to finally get off my ass and enlist, but I did it my way. I enlisted in a Navy program called Sea-Air-Mariner (SAM for short.) I went through full basic training at NTC Great Lakes in January of 1994. Boy, that was stupid timing on my part, then on to SSC San Diego for A school, and then to Tampa to do the 1 weekend a month/2 weeks a year as a Reservist. I wound up doing that for just over 20 years and retired in March of 2014 as a Navy Chief. Pretty uneventful except for the 1 year mobilization in 2013. But even that was pretty tame in the grand scheme of things.
Random memories from 4 years at the Castle
Oh boy, plenty of random bits floating around.
Wednesday night 10-2’s: One of which included Jeff Labbee making his infamous appearance as ‘Q-tip.’ A costume made of fishnet worn as a poncho and secured with a belt around the neck. For some strange reason that completely cleared the foyer of the young women who were on their way in.
Fiji Island ’87:
I think I had just dropped as a pledge and was somehow able to go anyway. Me, Pilgrim and Phil walked completely around the island. Reggie, the boat captain, looking at us like we were a bunch of deranged idiots as he hauled us out to the island. But our cash was good, so he did not care too much. Cathy ‘Max Factor’ bringing a curling iron along and not understanding that there was no place for her to use it. Me just bringing a sleeping bag to crash in; great plan until it snowed. Someone took pity on me and let me crash in their tent.
Christmas parties: Joe Leporati as Santa one year. I have pictures of Wally and Chachi as evil elves somewhere but can’t find them right now.
Despite all the hijinks and the regret that I only lived in the house for 1 year, the 4 years I spent at the Castle is how i was forged in to the person I am today. There was a bit of a black cloud over the chapter the entire time I was there - some of it self inflicted, some of it part of the overall times. At times there was a lot more work involved in keeping the chapter afloat than there was in having a good time. (Some of which I’m still just finding out about today.) Regardless, we all buckled down and kept things together and still found ways to have fun. I came out the back-side with a pretty good work ethic along with the ability to still find the humor in dark situations. Lessons which have served me well over the years.
To steal a line from Jon’s video - ’the constant potential of what you’re going to become.’
I’ve only made it back twice since graduating, but in both cases it was great to see exactly that potential in the brotherhood. There are some things you have to go through and experience when you’re young - it’s part of the journey. With that, it’s been great to see the legacy of the house continue.
“What if the space be long and wide,
That parts us from our brother’s side
A soul-joined chain unites our band,
And memory links us had in hand.”
(Phi Gamma Delta fraternity song)
Chip Chapman, ’82